Information

Homelessness

Homelessness is not inevitable and can often be prevented.  Our vision is for everyone to have a safe, warm and affordable home that meets their needs.

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Background

Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987, a person should be treated as homeless, even if they have accommodation, if it would not be reasonable for them to continue to stay in it.

Local authorities have a legal duty to help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They do this by:

  • providing information and advice on homelessness and the prevention of homelessness
  • offering temporary or permanent accommodation

Bills and legislation

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 introduced changes to existing homelessness legislation. It established the right to review a homelessness decision and introduced a duty on registered social landlords (RSLs) to assist local authorities in rehousing homeless people.

The Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 outlined the provision that, by 2012, anyone finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own must be entitled to settled accommodation in a local authority or housing association tenancy or a private rental.

This amended the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 which defines the rights of homeless people and was enshrined in law in 2012 along with the Homeless (Abolition of Priority Need Test) (Scotland) Order 2012.

In 2012, the Scottish Parliament passed secondary legislation on housing support services, requiring local authorities to assess the housing support needs of homeless applicants.

The Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020, which previously prohibited local authorities from placing pregnant women or families with children into bed and breakfasts or hotels for more than seven days, was extended to all homeless households.

On 29 November 2022, the Homeless Persons (Suspension of Referrals between Local Authorities) (Scotland) Order 2022 came into force. This legislation suspends referrals between Scottish local authorities for homeless households on the basis of their local connection. This gives people in housing crisis the freedom to settle where they choose with access to the support they need, and aims to help them integrate more fully into the local community and to reduce repeat homelessness. A monitoring and reporting framework has been developed to capture information which, in addition to regular meetings with local authorities and support services, will establish an evidence base against which the impact of this policy can be measured. 

Contact

Email: Homelessness_External_Mail@gov.scot

Telephone: 0300 244 4000 (Central Enquiry Unit)

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